It was November 13, 2015. Islamist attackers killed 130 people in the Bataclan concert hall near a football stadium and 130 people in front of cafes and restaurants. Now it came to a major process that should clarify the background of the attack. 20 men are charged. 14 of them are present in the specially set up courtroom. Among them is the old main defendant Salah Abdeslam (32). He is the only living member of the Paris terror squad. In his first statement, he cited the retaliation for France’s attacks in Syria as a motive.
According to the French-Moroccan, the former French François Holland knew that he was taking a risk when he attacked the “Islamic State in Syria.” He is also said to have driven three assassins to one of the crime scenes. His detailed interrogation on the crime in January is eagerly awaited. Survivors and relatives of victims had described their gruesome experiences of the night of horror for four weeks from the beginning of October. The reports from the Bataclan concert hall, where many pretended to be dead so as not to attract the attention of the attackers, were particularly moving. “They shot at us like hares,” said Cédric, a 41-year-old survivor.
Hollande himself came to court under high security precautions. He justified the decisions made at the time. He was convinced that the trigger for the attacks was not the military action in Syria, but “our way of life here”. Hollande was at the France-Germany football match at the Stade de France when the first explosions could be heard in front of the stadium. He declared a state of emergency that night. Among the more than 2000 co-plaintiffs is the family of the German teacher Fabian Stech, who was killed in the Bataclan. “I want to show that we are strong,” said his widow at the beginning of the process.
Initially, around a thousand investigators were involved in reconstructing the acts of violence. They found that the perpetrators were a Belgian-French jihadist cell with close ties to Syria. The mastermind behind the attacks is Oussama Atar, a Belgian with Moroccan roots who is said to have coordinated the blood crimes from Syria. According to estimates by the French secret service, he was killed in attacks in Syria in 2017. On November 13, 2015, three men wearing explosive belts struck – one group at the Stade de France football stadium, the next in a nightlife district in Paris, the last in the Bataclan concert hall. All nine assassins are dead.
Abdeslam was the only one who got rid of his explosive belt and fled. Why he did this will be one of the central questions during his interrogation. Abdeslam was eventually tracked down in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek, where he grew up. Several of the attackers had come from Syria with false Syrian passports via the refugee route to Europe. In addition to Abdeslam, four other men are charged who were allegedly intended for use in attacks. The remaining defendants allegedly provided logistical assistance by helping Abdeslam to escape or by obtaining false papers. Of the six defendants who were absent, five are considered dead and one is in custody in Turkey.